NEA Women in Business: Holly Acebo

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Holly Acebo
LensMasters Co-owner

Residence: Jonesboro
Education: B.C., commerce, Mount Allison University
Professional background: In addition to LensMasters, she owns Rodan+Fields Level 5 Lexus Achiever.

What was your dream job as kid and why?

I think I always had an entrepreneurial spirit as a child. I recognized that being in business for yourself meant providing goods or services that others needed or wanted. It was a way of helping others. When I was young, I’d pick corn on my parent’s farm and sell it by the dozen (baker’s dozen!) to neighbors or those driving by. I was super-dedicated because we lived in the country, and I’d stay at the end of the driveway all day to sell it for $1.

What has been the most fulfilling moment of your career so far?

Several years ago, before joining my husband in our family optical business, I helped him form our Vision of Hope Program. It’s a program we created to provide free eyewear to children in our community who otherwise would go without glasses. Each year, we work with local school counselors who help identify those in need. It’s a blessing to fit these children with glasses. A lot of them are first time glasses wearers, and it truly changes their lives. Their school work, sports, and confidence all improve because they can now see.

Holly Acebo.

My other fulfilling moment is through my skincare company, helping women own their own businesses and create lives they have only dreamed of. Owning a virtual business that we can literally operate from our phones is a huge blessing to a lot of busy ladies. From single moms to busy career women who want more than working full time until retirement, we don’t want to miss all the moments with our families, and a side-gig — as some refer to it — can be the answer.

What character traits do you feel have benefited you in your success?

Integrity, loyalty and kindness.

How do you spend your time away from work? What are your hobbies?

Our teenagers are busy with athletics at school and travel sports and school involvement. That keeps us busy. I also serve on several committees and community boards. I do enjoy running and getting outside and have had more time to do that since COVID-19 hit.

What’s the next big personal or career challenge you plan to take on?

To learn Japanese. I grew up speaking some French and knew some Korean from time spent in South Korea, so a foreign language isn’t too scary. We just launched Rodan+Fields into Japan, so knowing their language and culture will help tremendously in building our teams and business there.

Can you share what you have learned about your business from the COVID-19 pandemic?

In uncertain times, you figure out what your strengths are real quick, and you adapt to change and find ways to be helpful in times of need. Eyewear is essential, and having a locally-owned, family business you have the pleasure of being there to hear firsthand just how essential you are.

We had new customers come from many miles away to have lenses made in our on-site lab because they were in need with broken or lost glasses. We became flexible in our operating hours, opening on the weekend if someone was coming from out of town, doing home mailbox deliveries, if needed.

By providing one-hour local service, we were able to help healthcare workers and others who couldn’t function without their eyewear. We also serve customers who are elderly and were not comfortable in coming into our store. We are able to go to their vehicles or make other arrangements. Adapting, being flexible and understanding all are important for small business owners.

What’s your biggest passion and why?

Helping others feel good about themselves. I can say I’m so blessed because through both of my businesses I get to live out my passion every day. When someone comes to me for their eyewear, I want to help them with their selection that helps them feel spectacular. To me, it isn’t about selling the most expensive frame, it’s about fitting them with what helps them feel good, look good and have more confidence than they had prior. Likewise, through my skincare business, it’s all about their complexion, lashes, brows and how those things change their attitude about themselves.

Everyone wants to look good and feel better about themselves, I love playing a role in that. It’s life changing for some people. Truly life changing.

What’s your favorite app at the moment?

Social media apps for many reasons. Keeping in touch with family and friends because of current travel restrictions, and, of course, the marketing benefit they bring to businesses.

What advice would you give young women who are at the beginning of their careers?

I love mentoring young women, it’s probably my favorite part of my Rodan+Fields business. The biggest advice is always to dream big. You never have to choose between being a mom and having a successful career. You can have both and find balance to not miss the moments, to be present for your family and to also be wildly successful. I think being a mom and an entrepreneur gives me more compassion for employees and situations that may come up. We are definitely pros at multi-tasking.

What’s the last good book you read?

“Chase The Lion” by Mark Batterson.

If you have a bucket list, what are the top three things on it?

Run a marathon. I’ve completed several half marathons but have put off a full, it’s about time to tackle that. Skydive. Why not? [And] travel.